I woke up this morning with that feeling one has when one has a cumbersome task lined up for the day. Then I realized, it was the weekend and you know what? That feeling got worse. I realized that most weekends, I was going out against my will because I wanted to have a decent answer to ‘What did you do this weekend?’. [This question will henceforth be known as the Monday Question]. Obviously, this is ridiculous. People I work with are extremely perceptive and given that I have just about as much ‘personality’ as a bottle of mineral water, my work-mates have had ample opportunity to figure out I’m very uninteresting.
So, why have I been going out come rain or shine, come leg pain or back cramps? To make sure I have an answer to the MQ. To be fair, I’ve enjoyed a lot of the walking I’ve done, but not always. I’ve missed the lazy weekends that I usually have back home in Hyderabad. Where I don’t go out unless necessary, and do a lot of reading and unwinding. And surprisingly, I love it. A colleague of mine was shocked to hear that I do this pretty much all weekends. She had this horrified expression that seemed to say ‘HOW are you still alive?!”
I guess the fundamental difference is in the definition of ‘fun’ and ‘weekend’. To a lot of folks I work with here, reading is not fun. Walking aimlessly is not fun. And staying at home just relaxing is by far the worst way to spend a weekend. Fun, appears to be in activities like visiting specific places with a specific agenda. A weekend-bucket-list, if you will. Every weekend, I’m expected to do things I’ve never done in my life. I’ve heard people discuss how they tried hot yoga or rock climbing or took a wine and food pairing class, went hiking in some woods or went exploring some random off beat place or made a cooking-project at home. Usually, I try to do a Jeeves and shimmer away before the conversation-ball is passed over to me and the dreaded MQ is asked.
To me, reading is fun. Staying at home and writing random blog entries is fun (I wouldn’t dare mention my blog in office, lest people start asking me when my book is coming out because everything has to have an ultimate goal, a logical end). Savoring the feeling of not having to do anything is fun. I’m starting to wonder if something is wrong with me.
So this Saturday, I took my boring life back. I stayed in my apartment and spent the day lazing around and watching Agatha Christie movies on YouTube. I had some good food, some very smooth wine and I Skyped with my husband. In short, I had the most fun and relaxed Saturday in NYC since A left for Singapore. To me it was a very well-spent Saturday, but I need to come up with a way to make this sound fun before I get the MQ next week.
I can’t wait to be home, be asked the Monday question, say an emphatic ‘Nothing’ and hear ‘Yup, me too. It’s the best, isn’t it?’ in response.
PLANET HUNTERS! How do you detect planets that are hundreds of light years away? Professor John Johnson and his team of scientists explain how human consciou…
Isn’t this awesome? PhD tv should become prescribed watching for physics students. And some physics teachers too…
Every Monday morning, I have this realization that I’m very boring. This happens because of the inevitable Monday morning question - “So, did you do anything fun over the weekend?” It turns out that “I went to the park and read my book” or ” I went to a couple of bookstores and spent a few hours browsing the aisles.” do not qualify as ‘fun’. For a couple of Mondays, I tried “Oh, I went walking all over the place” (which I did), but it turns out that you need to be more specific, since that declaration is always followed by “ooo, where did you go?”. And there are only so many times you can use the phrase “wandered aimlessly” without the other person rolling their eyes. To be fair, nobody has rolled their eyes at me so far, but I think they’re only being polite.
So I’m wondering how to make ‘walking’ sound fun. Because that’s pretty much all I did this weekend too. Walked all around the upper east side where the unbelievably posh people live in their unbelievably posh apartments and walk their unbelievably ugly and tiny (but considered posh) dogs. Walked along 5th avenue by Central Park and smiled to myself when I saw children playing and squealing in delight. Walked in the shade of trees on a gorgeously sunny day and savoured that feeling of walking under the shade of trees on a gorgeously sunny day. Walked alongside this lady with a tiny dog who howled in response when a police van went howling by. Walked beside this other lady who had about 20 shopping bags and every single one had a designer’s label on it. Walked and looked around at all the posh folks and hummed Bertie Wooster’s ‘Have you seen the well-to-do; up on Lennox avenue…” to myself. Walked into Barnes & Noble, walked around the aisles and found gifts for friends back home. Walked alongside this GIANT of a man who was spinning a basketball on a finger now and then. Walked into someone who asked me for directions to Rockefeller Center, into someone else who asked me how he could get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Walked back to the apartment feeling tired, but delighted from all the sights I’d taken in and all the exercise my legs had got.
Sounds like a lot of fun to me.
A whole lot of letters. Well, at least in my name.
The other day I went to Starbucks and asked for coffee. Starbucks has this thing called Hazelnut macchiato which is hazelnut flavoured coffee that tastes absolutely delish with cinnamon powder, which they have in a sprinkler… but wait. That’s really not the point.
So, as I was saying, I asked for my coffee and the nice lady behind the counter asked for my name. So I gave her my name. In turn, she gave me the worst look of confusion I’ve ever seen on anyone’s face. I repeated it for her benefit and for a minute I thought she got it. When I got my coffee with my name written on it, it was spelt with a C and an L. !! It was a little embarrassing to see my name disfigured so badly. I was Clitika. Sheesh.
I don’t really blame the lady. I have a low voice and three syllables in my name. Totally understandable for someone who is used to hearing monosyllabic names like Tom or James or something. Since then, I’ve been Kay in Starbucks. Much easier and slightly cool I think. For a while I toyed with the idea of using a different name every time I went to a different Starbucks. I could be Pooja in one and Neha in the next and Nisha in the third. But then, I like my name. I know my mum had that name picked out for me much before I came along. She thought it was elegant and I can imagine the emotion when she named her first kid that. So I settled for being Kay in Starbucks. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I could do.
So, while I still have the ability to string words together, here’s another post! This time about what I do for most of the week in this city that never sleeps.
Well, what did you think? Before you hit the tiny cross button on top and close this page in disgust, let me reassure you I’m not going to bore you with what I do. I’m going to try and entertain by recounting how I do it. And how, miraculously, I haven’t been fired yet.
Most of my day here is spent ensuring that folks who come in to interview, are where they’re supposed to be whenever they’re supposed to be there. Sounds simple enough on the face of it. Even mind numbing, you might think. You’re not alone. That’s what I thought. And that’s why I signed up. And how wrong I was.
In theory, it’s not much. In practice, there is the added factor that academics can sometimes forget that they have a schedule to stick to and the discussions can go on till someone knocks on the door and says “Time’s up!”. Guess who that ‘someone’ is.
A lot of folks might think it’s really not tough to walk up to the door and knock on it and say the words “Alright, time’s up!” But imagine this. The people who sit behind those doors are unbelievably brilliant and went to universities I used to dream of and are some of the smartest people in their fields and quite possibly the best at what they do in the world. Not to mention, they’re doing frightfully complicated research and each of them can give new meaning to the phrase communication skills. So needless to say, I become like Raj from the Big Bang theory whenever any of these people talk to me. Now, imagine me looking at the clock, as it ticks towards the end of one hour, willing the interviewer to bring the candidate back, waiting for five minutes past, wailing internally and wobbling over to the door in question, knocking and instead of saying “Time is up”, I end up babbling incoherently. Thankfully, I think everyone has assumed that I have some kind of speech disorder and everytime I interrupt their discussions, they let me escort the candidate away. To be clear, all of the scientists I’ve dealt with are EXTREMELY nice people. It’s not their fault that I live in constant fear of saying something stupid in front of them. And since I think anything I say will sound stupid, I just keep shut in meetings. I think people have serious doubts about how I finished seven years of working in this place.
And since this is where I can stop without having such doubts myself, I will. :)
New York City. Tall. Awesome. Diverse. But not home.
I’ve been in this city for nearly a month now, and I think I’m the only one of the people who have visited the city from office who wants to go back home. Knowing full well that Hyderabad will be scorching hot this time of the year. There are some clear advantages of being in New York. Pretty much every time I step out, I see a new bookstore (or a new Barnes & Noble, at any rate) and I just love that. I love discovering new bookstores, randomly walking around and not being pestered by salesmen. I love the fact that I can walk around for hours on the roads and nobody will stare or bother me. I love that I can walk around a mall or a store and not feel like I’m obligated to buy things. I love the fact that this city has a huge park right in the middle and several others scattered around. I love it that those parks are not hang-out spots for sleazebags, but clean public places where people can enjoy the sunshine and some fresh air. It’s awesome. It is also such a contrast from Hyderabad where people hoard change. People here return change down to the last penny and now I have a tiny pile of coins sitting on my bedside table. I need to figure out what to do with it. If I can’t think of anything else, I’ll probably donate it to one of those guys with boxes collecting money for the homeless.
On the other hand, I don’t like the fact that I cant find fresh vegetables here. No filter coffee. No spicy food. I can’t find fruit that tastes like actual fruit ( I do love the berries though). Somehow this city feels cold and brutal. I don’t know how to explain it.
So many people have told me that New York City is the best place to be by yourself in. There’s so much to do and see and you really don’t need company. Somehow I don’t agree with them. Not with the part that you can do things by yourself. Sure, you can.do whatever you want. But I dont think you enjoy some things unless you share the experience. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen something interesting and wished there was someone around to talk to. Like the other day when I was walking along 5th Avenue and spotted this GORGEOUS cathedral and I just stopped dead in my tracks, gaping. Spontaneously, I turned around to exclaim and realised I was alone.
Well, it’s just for another month. I know I’ll beat myself up for not having done a bunch of things, but at least I’ll be home.